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São Paulo | © Diego Torres Silvestre/Flickr
São Paulo | © Diego Torres Silvestre/Flickr
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7 Reasons São Paulo Is the World's Top Business Hub

Picture of Euan Marshall
Updated: 1 August 2017
While São Paulo is a vastly underrated option for tourists, offering stunning architecture, amazing restaurants and a vibrant nightlife, its reputation is first and foremost as one of the world’s best business hubs. Here are a few reasons why the city has become such a well-regarded center for business.

São Paulo is the financial center of Brazil

Considering the state of São Paulo as a whole, the region is responsible for a third of Brazil’s entire gross domestic product. It is the 10th richest city on the planet and if it were a country in itself, it would have an economy comparable to that of Poland or Belgium. The entire state combined has an economy the size of Mexico.

It is no surprise, therefore, that many of the world’s biggest banks have their Latin American headquarters in São Paulo and of the international companies that do business in Brazil, 63% are based in São Paulo. Netflix, for example, runs its entire Latin American operation out of its office in the city’s financial district. Put simply, if you want to do business in Latin America, you want to do business in São Paulo.

View from Banespa Building, São Paulo
View from Banespa Building, São Paulo | Marcos Nozella / Flickr

São Paulo’s population is huge

With over 12 million inhabitants, São Paulo is the twelfth largest city in the world, the largest in America and the entire southern hemisphere. If you consider the surrounding cities that make up Greater São Paulo (which are in themselves well integrated and an important part of São Paulo as a whole), this number is bumped up to over 20 million, more than the entire population of Romania, Chile or the Netherlands. As a result, the city brings with it all sorts of advantages to doing business, from offering a massive potential client base (with a huge number of devices connected to the internet) to a wide range of potential hiring talent.

São Paulo skyline
São Paulo skyline | © Binary Koala / Flickr

São Paulo is well connected

Transport in São Paulo, both public and private, often gets a bad rap. Talk of gargantuan traffic jams and inefficient public transport systems may put people off the city, but many of these phenomena are overstated. As previously mentioned, São Paulo is huge and its public transport network, while in actual fact quite efficient and of a high quality, is not nearly expansive enough for such a large population. As a result, many people use cars, which, of course, causes traffic. However, a quick glance at lists of world cities with the worst traffic will show no mention of São Paulo. Cities of a comparable size, such as Mexico City, Jakarta, Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro, all have infinitely worse traffic.

Paulista Avenue, São Paulo, Brazil
Paulista Avenue, São Paulo, Brazil | © Wagner T. Cassimiro "Aranha" / Flickr

What’s more, São Paulo is home to the best connected airports in South America. Guarulhos International and Congonhas are the two busiest airports in the continent and receive flights from all over the world, often being used by visitors from other continents as a layover before moving on to other destinations in South America. For businesses based in São Paulo, travel to other parts of Brazil is a piece of cake.

It has an abundance of hotels

For business travelers, São Paulo is an excellent destination in terms of facilities and cost-effectiveness. As it is such a popular business hub, the selection of hotels around the city is staggering and a large part of these are geared towards a business tourist clientele, offering all the necessary services for those working away from home. Price-wise, accommodation in São Paulo is also quite affordable, at least in comparison with other business hubs around the world. While a night in a good hotel in New York City could set you back anything upwards of $300, a comparable room in São Paulo is likely to cost you no more than $100.

Hotel Unique
Hotel Unique | André Deak / Flickr

It’s incredibly culturally diverse

São Paulo is one of the world’s truly cosmopolitan cities, made up of millions of people from dozens of different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. In practice, this allows businesses in the city to hire culturally diverse teams from many different walks of life, providing different points of view, attitudes towards business and ways of working. Furthermore, the city’s global character also makes it welcoming for visitors from partners or clients from abroad. For instance, people from East Asia can find themselves at home with the city’s stunning array of Japanese, Chinese and Korean restaurants, while this multiculturalism allows Paulistanos to be adaptable to different business cultures from around the world.

Liberdade São Paulo I
Liberdade São Paulo I | © Caliel Costa Flickr

São Paulo has a great startup ecosystem

With thousands of active startups and lots of support, São Paulo is the best place to start a business in this key Latin American country. Startup events and conferences with mentors and potential investors are a daily occurrence, while there are tons of startup accelerators available, as well as a Google Campus, inaugurated in 2015. Brazil’s economic downturn has created lots of opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to solve everyday problems, and with São Paulo’s huge population spending lots of time online on their computers or smartphones, it is the ideal place to launch your new business idea.

The weather is ideal

While this may seem like a frivolous point, São Paulo’s weather is actually one of its best qualities. With its temperate tropical climate, it sees warm summers, cool winters and is generally pleasant in the seasons in between. While other Brazilian cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, are just too hot (wearing a suit during a Rio summer is not for the faint of heart), São Paulo manages to reach high, warm temperatures while rarely feeling uncomfortable and stuffy. The city also gets plenty of rain to counteract the build up of big-city pollution.